Aloha Rise & Grind

Life is a journey. Enjoy the scenery.

There are a number of self-improvement books out in the market. I have read my fair share and there’s no doubt that another author will come out with a new and improved way of dishing out the same information in a different form. Out of all the books I have read so far, there are a select few I would recommend to a friend.

I have read and listened to the following books a few times and each time I take away something new. The following is a list of my favorite books on personal growth. You know, the stuff that makes us better humans. Changing yourself for the better can be painful, but it also makes you a stronger person in the process. If you have a book you’d like to recommend, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

#1 – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- Stephen R. Covey

“Habits are powerful factors in our lives. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily express our character and produce our effectiveness… or ineffectiveness.”- Stephen R. Covey

It has also been said that everyday we are either taking one step closer to our goal or taking a step away from our goal. We have the ability to change our habits for better or worse, so why not choose new good habits now. As long as we live on this earth we have the ability to say to ourselves that we are never too old to change.

#2- The Success Princples- Jack Canfield

“If you assume in favor of yourself and act as if it is possible, then you will do the things that are necessary to bring about the result. If you believe it is impossible, you will not do what is necessary, and you will not produce the result. It becomes a self-fulling prophecy.”- Jack Canfield

I haven’t read any of his books that made him famous (i.e. Chicken Soup for the Soul), but this stands out as one of my favorites. He provides particular success principles in bite size form to make it easier to apply in your life.

#3- The Untethered Soul- Michael A. Singer

“Everyone knows you can’t deal well with a situation if you’re getting anxious, scared, or angry about it. The first problem you have to deal with is your own reactions.”- Michael A. Singer

When you are able to see your feelings for what they are, you will be able to take a step back and realize they are just feelings. Remembering that you are not your feelings is one of the steps towards an untethered soul.

#4- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck- Mark Manson

“Because happiness requires struggle…Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles.”- Mark Manson

He also talks about in length how we go about dealing with our problems. The first is denial and the second is the victim mentality. How do you deal with your problems? I can see how easy it is to blame others for our problems and from my own experience I can see how denial made it appear to solve my problems. Little did I know, I wasn’t dealing with my problems I was compounding my issues.

#5- You are a Badass- Jen Sincero

“You need to raise your frequency to match the vibration of the one you want to tune into”- Jen Sincero

Believing in ourselves has got to be one of the most challenging aspects of living this life. We all have different life experiences, but we can all agree that negative talk comes from what we hear in our own heads. See for yourself how raising your frequency in a positive way can change your day. I didn’t believe it until I applied it in my life. Like attracts like. If you continually focus on the negative things occurring in your life that is exactly what you’ll attract. Positive vibrations will attract positive events and people into your life.

I can’t believe we are headed into another weekend. My days blend together. Kylie has me up a couple times a night, but for the most part, she’s a good sleeper, as good as a two-month-old could be. On the downside, Brooklyn came down with a cold and it’s making its way through the family. So far my husband and I have only had a sore throat. Hopefully, it won’t be anything more than that. What better time for a classic soup, right?

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of the plain old egg, I have had my share of hard boiled eggs, but my favorite kind of eggs are usually covered in cheese or made into eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce. I have ordered egg drop soup from take out Chinese restaurants, without realizing just how easy it is to make at home. Although, I am a quarter Chinese, this is a soup I never encountered growing up until my 20’s. If you have ever wondered what goes into making egg drop soup, look no further. It only took me another 20 years to find out how to make it.

There’s a packet you can buy in the Asian or International section of your local grocery store called Egg Flower Soup, but after you make this at home, it pales in comparison. From start to finish, it takes about 10 minutes. There are so many variations of this soup out there, so go ahead and be creative. Think of this soup as a base and put your own ingredients in it (i.e., mushrooms, green onions, seafood, or fried wonton strips).

Quick and easy egg drop soup that your family will love.

Egg Drop Soup

Quick and easy egg drop soup recipe.
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 3⅓ Cup water
  • 2 Cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 Teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a medium saucepan pour water and stir in bouillon cubes, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to a boil.
  • While you are waiting for your base mixture to boil, mix cornstarch and water together and pour into saucepan once it begins to boil.
  • Slowly stir in eggs.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
Keyword egg drop soup, recipe, soup, tour de soup
zuppa toscana

I would normally have a picture displaying my recent soup venture, but I’ll have to add it in at a later date. Let’s just say that this soup was in heavy rotation for months. Yes, it was that good, but I’ve had to take it out due to it’s frequent visits on the dinner table.

While I was trying to find a catchy title for my soup, I thought it would be fun to make it into a series. I am not much of a Tour de France aficionado, but I did learn that it is a 23-day event. What does that mean for you and me? It means that I unintentionally signed myself up for the challenge of coming up with 23 different soup recipes to share. After today’s post, this leaves me with 20 more soup recipes to share in the coming weeks. I will be stepping out of my comfort zone pho sho.

This week’s soup is zuppa toscana and is an easy soup to make. I rely mostly on the flavoring that comes from the sausage. If you decide to use hot Italian sausage, most of the heat washes away in the soup, so for those sensitive to spice, it is pretty mild. No need to add additional salt. This makes a great meal on its own or you can serve it as an appetizer. If you do happen to make this one, please feel free to post a picture in the comments box below. It would be greatly appreciated.

zuppa toscana

Zuppa Toscana

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 32-ounce chicken stock
  • 4 medium yellow Yukon potatoes diced
  • 1 pound sausage
  • 3 Teaspoons garlic minced
  • ½ Cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bunch kale

Instructions
 

  • In 6-quart stockpot, pour chicken stock, potatoes, and minced garlic. Cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are tender.
  • Cook sausage over medium-high heat until browned.
  • Take leaves off of kale and rinse.
  • During the last 15 minutes, mix in sausage, kale, and heavy whipping cream. Ready to serve.
Keyword comfortfoods, simple recipe, soup, zuppa toscana soup

Today marks the night before the first day of school. My husband and I both thought we would never see the day when our kids would be going back to school, but here we are and no further school announcements postponing it to a later date have been made.

I briefly thought about making a big dinner since it is kind of worth celebrating the kids going back to school, but decided the simpler route was better. I was leaning towards my old standby soup, that I’ll share next week, but had a change of mind, as I often do when it comes to what’s for dinner. Besides, my husband wanted to try a different soup of the Asian persuasion. So here I am going outside of my comfort zone and trying something new. This was my first time cooking with curry, but I’m excited to say that it turned out well. It has a pleasant aroma that leaves your family wondering what you’re cooking up for dinner. My hope for you is that they’ll beg you to make it again.

I was going to name the soup exactly what it is, but it made for an extremely long title: Medium-Spicy Thai Coconut Chicken Soup, so I opted for Red Curry Chicken Soup. It tends to roll off the tongue easier, right?

Red Chicken Curry Soup

A stew-like soup that you can pour over a bed of rice.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Thai
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound shredded chicken
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 Teaspoons garlic minced
  • 32 ounces chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 Teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon Siracha chili sauce
  • 13.5 ounce can coconut milk

Instructions
 

  • In 6 quart stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat, add garlic and onion until transparent.
  • Stir in shredded chicken, spices, and chicken broth over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Serve as an appetizer or main dish over rice.
Keyword soup, thaisoup, tour de soup

Staying at home with the family during this time of this global pandemic, continues to force me to step out of my comfort zone and into the realm of comfort foods. When it comes to dinner time, the favorites and regular staples are getting old i.e., spaghetti with meat sauce, tacos, baked chicken, and barbecued spare ribs. I get tired of having leftovers that no one will eat later. I have found it most effective when I make just enough so there is nothing left. Scarcity seems to work well for this family.

It has been a hot humid Florida summer, but nothing says summer like a cup of hot soup. I’m only half kidding. I love soup during hot or cold weather. On one particular humid summer night, Anthony and I were at a customer’s house where we were given a shot of Turkish coffee with a hint of orange. I found it particularly odd that we weren’t offered something to cool us down. He explained that hot drinks are supposed to cool you down. The particular science behind it I have since learned doesn’t work for those of us who live in a humid climate. All science aside, it wouldn’t change the fact that I enjoy making comfort foods year-around. I mean why not, right? Who says you can only eat pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving?

I should probably make summer soups, but this tomato basil soup is something you’ll want to add into your menu rotation. Even my picky eaters will have a bowl. It makes for a good Meatless Monday. Each spoonful is rich with flavor, especially with fresh basil. Please join me next week for next week’s Tour de Soup! Feel free to drop me a line to let me know your favorite soup.

I learned about the term “glow-up” from my 17-year old daughter, Lexy. Wiktionary defined it as “the complete transformation in a person’s appearance for the better.” I have also learned that glow-ups are easier than what I have on my mind.  Is there a term for someone looking to change their inner appearance?

I can be quick to dole out advice to another, but if you are like me it is difficult to take when someone else is providing constructive feedback. You may get upset and slam a few doors in the process, but if you allow some time to quiet your mind, you will be surprised at what you will find within yourself.  If you want to become a better person, you need to become more self-aware. Here are some helpful ideas worth mentioning.

  1. The Daily Shine Podcast

During the week I listen to a daily podcast called “The Daily Shine.” It has me practicing ways I can become more self-aware. I like to take notes while I’m listening. I used to do it by pen and paper but found it more helpful to use my sticky notes app. All I can say is to keep listening, learning, and applying. You really aren’t learning if you don’t put it into action. 

Becoming self-aware has its own set of challenges. When I turn it into daily practice, my days turn into an arduous climb. I like to imagine that it is like someone messing with the incline on your virtual treadmill. I have to constantly put what I have learned into action. Unfortunately, my reactionary impulses are terribly on point. My breathing becomes short, I can feel a pounding in my chest and all I want to do is scream. I become agitated easily and provoked into unnecessary arguments. The term “mama bear’ I now realize, needn’t apply to the overprotective mom.

I know that a contributing factor to my mama bear tendencies is sleep deprivation. I have a hard time taking a nap as suggested by healthcare providers when they say, “When baby sleeps, you sleep.” I nod and smile, but it doesn’t work that way in my house. When Kylie is sleeping, I’m thinking about all the things I need to be doing or want to be doing. My want could be as simple as painting my nails (I like looking at freshly painted fingernails when I’m writing). Sleep is something I miss terribly. It is the uninterrupted sleep I crave nightly. As soon as I shut my eyes, Kylie starts clearing her throat, providing me fair warning that she is about to lose it. I appreciate that she doesn’t go from 0-100 like her sister, Brooklyn. It is a constant lesson I am learning: Not becoming my emotions which brings me to a second helpful idea.

2. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer

My husband, Lexy, and I have read it. Self-awareness can go a long way into strengthening that inner muscle of controlling your emotions. It isn’t right to go off on my family because of my lack of sleep. It comes down to reigning in my own emotions with no excuses. Take some time to read this one and refer back to it often. There are times in the day when I seek peace and quiet, but I know that it isn’t a possibility.  How do I find stillness in the midst of a storm i.e., crying babies and the times when the older kids aren’t getting along? The tapping technique is helpful but I always return to deep breathing for long term effectiveness. Singer will have you wanting to highlight his entire book and then have you sharing it with friends and family. Lastly, a necessity in the arena to becoming better is improving our interpersonal connections.

3. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

My husband and I read this a while ago. It needs to be referred to often. Chapman talks about the “love tank.” It is not something that can be replenished on its own and requires constant care. Your relationship with your spouse does not and cannot run on auto-pilot no matter how stream-lined you think it is. This book has been around for a while and speaks for itself. You may realize that your own love language is shown through actions and not words or maybe it’s both. Whatever it may be, your spouse needs to know what that is. Mind readers do not exist. 

My last suggestion, do not bite off more than you can chew. I like to take on self-improvement ideas as if it were a project that has a specific deadline. Realize that there is no deadline, it is a forever process. Once you think you have a handle on it, a unique situation will arise. If you decide to take this journey to self-awareness, it will turn into a climb that will have you grabbing at roots and tree limbs, but I know that once I get there the view will be lovely. Don’t beat yourself up on what you aren’t doing. Remember to keep your focus on your improvements no matter how small. If you have helpful ideas of your own, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

My mother at 38 years old.

My mother turned 79 this past March and has lived with my family for some time. At the end of the week, my husband and I are accompanying her to meet with a coordinator so that she can be approved to live in an assisted living facility.

While I was gathering her paperwork required for the meeting, I broke down in tears. Even as I write this I am caught up in a wave of emotions. She is my mother. The brave woman that came to America on her own to start a new life. She is the woman who never missed a tennis meet or piano recital, and encouraged me in all things academic.

A few months ago she expressed her fear of forgetting things. I told her she didn’t need to worry about that because she was such a good record keeper. A month later, I noticed that she has begun to forget things. Small things like a comment she made seconds before or telling her something only to have her ask me the same question three or four more times. When I say, “I already told you,” she gets really quiet and sits down on the couch to write something down in her binder. I have no idea what it is that she’s writing, but it breaks my heart to see her like this. I can see it in her face that she doesn’t like what’s happening, but also doesn’t want to admit it. She once had a mind like a steel trap, as my stepdad once said, and now there are perceptible holes that no one can fix.

She’s been having vivid dreams of those who have passed on. My grandmother, her brother Reuben who died in his 20’s and most recently my stepdad. We found out he passed away this past December. He had a short-temper during my childhood that only became worse as he got older. They lived in an apartment on Geary St. in San Francisco, so when they argued the neighbors would check up on my mother to make sure she was okay. He had never hit her, but she didn’t wait around for it to happen. She had enough and filed for divorce.

After that dream, she has hung up pictures of when they were together, all smiles. She now recalls her life with him as a blessing. She no longer berates the man he was, which is a strange thing to witness. After all these years, now he’s a saint? There was a lot of hurt caused by his actions towards her and myself that I have had to forgive. Not an easy task, but once the anger is gone, it is amazing how much better I feel.

She is my biggest critic outside of myself and the first one to tell me “I told you so.”She cannot understand why yelling at children doesn’t make them better people and has an opinion about everything. Here’s a short list.

Cooking: “That’s not going to taste very good. If I were you I would ___.” I don’t follow her directions when it comes to cooking American dishes. Her follow up comment is usually, “Oh, Dais that was sooo good. I’m glad you finally know how to cook!”

Child rearing: “When I was _____ (insert child’s name) age I couldn’t _____.”

For instance, the following conversation happened yesterday.

Isabel and Gage: Can we go outside?

Me: Yes, you guys can go outside.

Mom: In the rain? They are going to get pneumonia.

Me: I have ran 30 miles in the rain. They will be just fine.

Mom: When we were kids we weren’t allowed. We had to carry an umbrella.

Career Choices: “You can still ___.” I haven’t had much of a career unless you count being a mother. She expected me to become something she could brag about to her family back home. Anything I have actually done for a living hasn’t been a big money maker. At 40, I’m still working on that one.

Post-baby body: “Dais, how long will it take you to lose the weight?” As if I don’t already have any issues with my post-baby body. We all know where I’m at with this one.

I try not to get worked up about things she says and realize daily that I can’t change the opinion of a nearly 80 year old. I worry that there will come a day when she won’t remember my name or the names of her grandchildren. I have come to terms with the fact that her time here on earth is waning and I do my best every day to remember that. All I can really do is to continue to love her unconditionally.

It has been nearly a month since I gave birth to Kylie. Time sure flies with little sleep. You know the kind, where the days blend together and you can’t remember the day of the week or the date for that matter. This morning, we had to take Isabel to the dentist for a check up and when it came to filling out the date for that COVID-19 form asking questions like “Have you traveled outside the U.S. in the last month” and so on. I could not remember the date, even though I knew the answer prior to walking through the door. Does forgetfulness continue post pregnancy?

The hardest part about post pregnancy is the comparison I make towards the old me. You know, the one who would be running a lot or at the gym every day. Not that there is anything wrong with staying in shape, but I tend to be an extremist at times. It is something I’m working on not repeating. I would spend a few hours at the gym, have enough time for a short nap before working for nine and a half hours staring at a computer screen inputting data for a title company. Underpaid and unhappy I took my frustrations to the gym or running. Being fit and unhappy wasn’t the balance I promoted on my old Instagram account, but it sure looked good. I realize that I am my worst critic and I have to constantly give myself permission that I’m doing well where I’m at. Self acceptance is a hard pill for me swallow, it always has been.

The break I took from social media has brought to my attention the lengths I would go to make things look better than it seemed. Going from fit to not fit in a matter of months was a huge blow to my ego. There are days where I struggle with looking at my own reflection. I try not to be self critical around my kids, because I don’t want them to have the same sort of hangups.

I want to be fit again and I want it now. I am like a kid waiting for the tooth fairy to come. I really can’t think of a better simile. There is the pain and then the pay off. (Side note: I thought I was doing well when I would find $.25 under my pillow. Can you believe the tooth fairy is giving $3 per tooth these days? At least that’s what the tooth fairy’s assistant is telling me, aka, my husband.

I’m not one to dwell on a problem without creating a solution. A week after Kylie’s birth, Anthony and I started walking. I have also started a weight lifting and calisthenics regiment. The walking hasn’t been tough and I even started running a few days ago. Losing the weight could have been much easier post baby, but my motivation to run while pregnant dwindled fairly quickly when the nausea set in as did working out at all. The cycle of giving into cravings and eating healthy was also a constant battle. Even after the nausea subsided, I still didn’t like the idea of running. Of course, by the end of the pregnancy I anxiously waited for the moment I could put on my running shoes without having to struggle around my preggo belly.

The road to getting back into shape is the same. There is no quick pill or shortcut. I have learned over and over again that consistency and determination is the key. Getting back into ultrarunning is not about who I can impress, it has more to do with proving to myself that I can and will be able to do it again. When I told my friend, Nancy, that I wanted to run Azalea 12/24 Hour in November (possibly the 50), she told me to take it slow. Wise words that I will heed to. I don’t plan on running 100 miles this year, but I’d sure love to do another epic run when I am ready. There are times when Badwater 135 and The Vol State call my name, but I have learned that establishing a hard date when I’m not ready, makes the process even more frustrating. The lesson that I continually revisit is to take the scenic route and enjoy the journey.

I never imagined being a step parent. Then again, I never imagined a lot of things, but they happened.

The love I have for my husband extends to his son, now our son, Gage. Being a mother of girls and only girls I have learned a lot. Did I think I had learned more than enough about kids? I could confidently give a resounding “YES!”, but that was a couple of years ago. Life was like, “Desiree, there is much more for you to learn. Let’s see how you can adapt to having another three!” Having a nearly 6 year old son in the house has thrown me for a loop.

His energy level cannot be rivaled against anyone in this house. He can run around all day and still have the energy of someone ready to run a marathon. You know how that old saying goes, “If you could bottle up that energy, we would be millionaires” it is the honest to goodness truth. I really wish I could have his kind of energy. I believe I could get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time.

He has a wonderful imagination. His favorite song is “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, but before he could hurt himself, we had to tell him that the song wasn’t really about flying. He has a unique take on life and is eager to get approval, especially when he’s suggesting ways to get things done. I continue to learn a lot from him.  When it comes to taking time out of being the busy mom, he reminds me that I need to just enjoy all the little things.

Today, Anthony and I went out for a walk and brought Gage along. It was a beautiful clear blue sky type of morning and we were anxious to get our miles in. We took one loop around the lake, but Gage wanted to go over the bridge and stand on a little island where the ducks like to gather. We told him we’d go over there the next time around. At the beginning of the second loop, he was already lagging, but I knew it wouldn’t be as simple as saying, “Hurry up, let’s go.” If you are a parent, you know that a child’s mind says the opposite. We slowly made our way over to the bridge where he was able to sit and watch the ducks, while we walked loops around the island and the bridge.

When kids aren’t agreeing to your terms of rigidity, we as parents must adapt and grow. Just remember, they aren’t going to be little forever. 

Facebook and Instagram have been my go-to social media platforms since 2014. Where else can you view a positive spin on the lives of others? The disconnection that social media promotes with the option of filters makes it difficult in getting to know people at their core. We all see the fluff, but what about the more important things that make us who we are? How well do you know your friends or how well do they know you? I’m sure they could tell you your favorite color, food, and TV show, but what makes you?

These thoughts have led me to share the Proust Questionnaire with all of you. I first heard about it in a creative writing class. Its primary purpose was to learn more about my fictional character, but since my final project for the class was a nonfiction piece about myself, I answered the questions.

Are you looking at this from an internal point of view? I find myself going back to this questionnaire once a year. Life has a way of making me see it in different angles so my answers will continue to evolve.

What did you learn about yourself? Did you have any “A-ha” moments? Let me know what you think.If you dare feel free to share your answers in the comments. 

Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  2. What is your greatest fear?
  3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  5. Which living person do you most admire?
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
  7. What is your current state of mind?
  8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
  9. On what occasion do you lie?
  10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
  11. Which living person do you most despise?
  12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
  13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
  14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
  15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
  16. When and where were you happiest?
  17. Which talent would you most like to have?
  18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
  21. Where would you most like to live?
  22. What is your most treasured possession?
  23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  24. What is your favorite occupation?
  25. What is your most marked characteristic?
  26. What do you most value in friends?
  27. Who are your favorite writers?
  28. Who is your hero of fiction?
  29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
  30. Who are your heroes in real life?
  31. What are your favorite names?
  32. What is it that you most dislike?
  33. What is your greatest regret?
  34. How would you like to die?
  35. What is your motto?
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